Advertising Trends: The Top 5 Must-Know Digital Marketing Trends of 2020

Are you trying to stay up with the latest marketing trends so that your company can grow its audience? With advertising constantly changing with the rise of social media marketing and eCommerce, it can feel hard to keep up with the newest, hottest trends your company needs.

Keep reading to learn about the biggest advertising trends we will be seeing this year so that you can get the most out of your marketing plan and budget.

1. A More Shoppable Social

Rather than posting on social media to get your followers to your site, platforms like Instagram are making it much easier with social commerce. Social commerce is a shoppable post or ads, meaning the viewer just needs to click the product tag on the photo to head to its product page and make a purchase on your site.

This makes it as easy as possible for customers to make a purchase with you, an important quality in our convenience-based society. The fewer steps you provide in product purchasing can help to decrease your companies percentage of cart abandonment.

Linking your shop to social media platforms is also pretty easy, as Instagram and Facebook work to link to your eCommerce site. Platforms like Snapchat and Pinterest are also rolling out this feature.

2. Revamping Email Marketing

Email marketing remains to be a great way to reach your customers in 2020, but many companies are taking their emails to a whole new level. Many brands are saying goodbye to newsletters, or plain letter emails full of text and are instead focusing on high-quality images and graphics. This approach is eyecatching to viewers and also lets them quickly scan the information you’re sending them.

Images overlayed with interactive, call to action buttons such as “Shop Now!” and “50% Off” that customers can click to connect to a certain page on your site are a great way to lead someone to make an easy purchase. Creating stunning images and graphics for email marketing is the best way to captivate your subscribers this year.

3. Influencers Still Thriving, But in New Ways

While influencers are still going to be a great way to market to new audiences this year, many companies are turning to micro-influencers as well. A micro-influencer is someone with a medium-sized following that is more niche. With the rise of the mega-influencer within the last few years, hiring them to market your product can get pricey, which is where micro-influencers come in handy.

A great way to utilize micro-influencers is to find one who is more tailored to your audience. This assures that your influencer and their audiences are more likely to be interested in your brand and products. The micro-influencer is more likely to be in touch with their followers, and not overwhelming them with product referrals.

Another upside to using micro-influencer is that they have much more time to engage with their followers. As engagement rates become more important than ever, this can be a great way to get people talking about your brand and products.

4. Engagement to the Next Level

Social media engagement has become increasingly important over the years, and companies are taking communication with their customers to a whole new level. Many companies are using direct messaging (DM) with customers to get more personal and accessible to their consumers.

This tactic helps to increase sales, as customers can directly message your brand to ask questions about products they are interested in purchasing. By answering customer questions and concern, they are much more likely to make a purchase with you, lowering your abandoned sale rates. This is a great way to build brand awareness, loyalty and trust with customers old and new.

By giving your customers a convenient place to contact you it can also be more convenient for your company to address these concerns via DM rather than phone calls and emails. If you roll out this feature, be sure to let your followers know to DM you for questions, comments and concerns.

5. Video Marketing Is a Must

As digital marketing is finding new ways to covey quick, easy and personal content, it’s no surprise that video marketing is going to become a must for companies in 2020. Thankfully, social platforms are making it much easier to use this marketing strategy. You can avoid building a whole YouTube community and instead launch videos on Instagram and Facebook instead.

Try posting live broadcast or video posts to engage your customers. This method is much more compelling, interesting and eye-catching when viewers are scrolling their feed.

This is also a great way to pack in tons of information without having to give your audience long pages of text. Make sure your team brainstorms on interesting topics and ideas that would engage your followers.

There are plenty of video content topic options, such as an informational video about one of your new products, or a behind the scenes look into your office. This kind of marketing is so engaging because you’re getting personal with your audiences, helping them and also bringing them into the interworkings of your brand.

If you’re trying to organize your marketing plan and budget, book a QuickBooks training session today.

Digital Advertising Trends You Should Be Using In 2020

If you’re not already incorporating these advertising trends into your marketing plan, you should start. Make sure your company is at the top of its marketing game with these engaging advertising techniques that can grow your following and customer base.

For more articles on digital marketing, be sure to check out our latest article on Stacked Marketer and how they continue to deliver industry breaking news through email and social media!

5 of the Best Logo Redesigns of All Time (Updated for 2020)

Logo design is more than just freelance and graphic work. Your logo brings life to your brand, while also making it stand out from the crowd and relate with audiences in ways other marketing campaigns can’t.

Just take a look at names like McDonalds, Starbucks, Nike and Target, who can all use their logo identity and not even need to mention the brand name for audiences to know what it is. Now that is brand power!

However, not all businesses and brands get their logo design correct the first time around. Or maybe the problem is that it’s an old idea and the company is looking for a fresh new look. No matter what it is, re-branding and logo redesign is on the rise.

Doing an entire corporate rebranding can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. With that kind of investment, you want to make sure that you get it right.

Take a lesson from these companies and their logo redesigns. By learning their approach, you can make your new logo an effective one.

1. Morton Salt

The Morton Salt logo first featured the iconic little girl with an umbrella in 1914. Over the last century, she has received updates to stay current with hair and clothing fashions. This has led to redesigns in 1921, 1933, 1941, 1968, and 2014.

What’s brilliant about Morton’s logo update is that they stay true to their brand. Instead of following marketing trends, the company keeps current with social trends. This ensures the company remains true to its personality while also staying current in society.

2. Netflix

Do you remember when Netflix was a mail-order DVD rental company? It seems like a lifetime ago when you compare it to the streaming behemoth that it is today. So with the change in direction, a logo update was long overdue.

The old logo worked well for the red envelopes as the black outlining and drop shadow popped on the vibrant red. The new logo leaves the shadow behind and focuses on the red color, which is the brand’s identity.

3. Pizza Hut

The original Pizza Hut logo used four different colors. It’s also a bit busy in the design. The company made a smart choice by reducing the number of colors down to one, red.

Not only is red a brand color for the company, but it’s a common color associated with Italian restaurants. It also evokes feelings of hunger.

One signature feature of Pizza Hut is the slanted roof. The company was smart to keep this identifying feature in its new logo.

4. Olive Garden

Olive Garden needed to update their logo because their original one was everything a logo shouldn’t be. It looked more like a street sign. It’s almost as if the local family Italian restaurant got bought by a corporate name, and they never bothered to update the logo.

The new logo brings the chain into modern times and embraces the new healthier menu. The simple font cleans the logo up and gets rid of the distracting details. They also replaced the off-brand grapes with a more fitting olive branch.

5. Marriott

Marriott did a beautiful job of giving its logo an update. While there was nothing inherently bad about their old logo, the new one is simplified while staying true to Marriott’s brand identity.

Instead of using the entire Marriott name, the logo was trimmed down to be just the fancy M. This draws your attention to the elegant M. It also makes the logo much easier and smaller to use on outdoor signs and in the room.

If you want to create a Marriott style logo, then try using a logo creator. Take a look at your logo and see if you can choose a letter or two to create the logo.

Get Inspired by These Logo Redesigns

One reoccurring trend throughout each of these logo redesigns is that the company stayed true to the brand’s image and personality. Each company looked at how it could take the core elements of their old logo and rework it to have a fresh and modern feel.

As always, we cover a wide range of topics on ZacJohnson.com, so be sure to browse our blog for more business-related articles to help make your venture a success.

Delivering Effective Employee Training in the Digital Age

The possibility of remote work used to be little more than a curious novelty offered by a handful of enterprising startups who dared to be different. However, the modern reality of the situation is that remote working is becoming much more of a mainstream option for a number of businesses, regardless of size and scale. Indeed, some of the largest organizations can benefit from the most, gaining access to global talent by way of distributed teams.

But, when your workers are spread out from Lisbon to Los Angeles, Montreal to Melbourne, how can you handle new employee onboarding to the same level of effectiveness as when you have the new hire actually in your physical office. It’s not like you can all gather around the same conference room table, nor can you linger over their shoulder to check in throughout the training process… can you?

However, to solely look at the concept of working and connecting with others through remote technology and opportunities as a business for only businesses, it would be a mistake. Now, more than ever, with the Coronavirus changing the way everyone in the world works, communicates and networks with others, the opportunity for remote working is no longer a nice little advantage and feature to have, it’s now simply a requirement.

With world conferences and events cancelling left and right, connecting audiences globally isn’t just for business anymore. Cancelling an event and postponing it for a later date is not a wise business decision. Instead, we are seeing many of these events focus on virtual events, hosting the same speakers and attendees… but not accessible from anywhere.

With all of this in mind, no matter if it’s for employee training through remote locations or holding conferences and business meetings virtually, it’s a new means  and opportunity for everyone to connect online in this new digital age.

The Importance of Effective Employee Training

It’s undeniable that one of the greatest strengths of any successful company is its people. You want to attract the right kind of talent that will align with the company culture you hope to foster, but the relationship you forge with workers at all levels of the company will begin with the process of training new employees in the first place.

It is absolutely true that new employee training can be costly, because it takes time and resources to get new hires up to speed on what needs to be done and how it should be done. That being said, ineffective training or a complete lack of training entirely can end up costing your company a lot more.

When an employee is trained effectively, not only will this result in fewer complications and conflicts down the line, but the employee is more likely to engage with the company in a positive way based on this initial experience. This helps with employee retention, as well as with long-term boosts in productivity.

A Personalized Approach from Anywhere in the World

What will it take, then, to develop an effective employee training program? It starts with having the right plan and template in place. And while this may sound like you are trying to create a standardized path for every new hire, it’s really much more about having the right initial framework and then adapting it accordingly.

  1. Start with your core objectives.
    It would be impossible (and prohibitively expensive) to train every new employee on every possible protocol, scenario, and system. Instead, it starts with having your priorities in the right place. What is the main goal of the training for this particular employee in this particular role at this particular time?
  2. Develop a plan and a timeline. After you’ve determined what is the most important thing the new hire should learn as part of their onboarding process, you need to determine how you can ensure they’ve actually learned it. Establish a realistic timeline with clearly defined milestones. Remember that training is not just a day or two of digital boot camp. It’s an ongoing process.
  3. Play to their strengths.
    Offer solutions for their weaknesses. Presumably, you’ve hired the new employee because their skill set is a good match for what your company needs. This extends to the type of learning that they may prefer and/or excel at. By leveraging digital tools that can offer contextual learning and instruction using different modalities, you maximize their potential.
  4. Encourage engagement and interaction.
    One of the bigger challenges you may encounter with distributed teams is that remote workers can feel disconnected from the company at large. They’re not gathering around in the same lunch room with their colleagues to talk about last night’s football game. Part of the employee training process involves developing a culture of connection. Casual Slack channels or regular video conferences with the team are great. Training can also take on the form of live video.
  5. Leverage technology.
    Mentoring can be great, but mentors should not be the main source of learning. An automated platform is preferable, with mentors offering clarification and encouragement along the way. Similarly, textbooks are too rote and routine, while contextual learning with proactive support is much more engaging and lends itself to greater retention too.
  6. Streamline the process.
    Technology has come a long way in recent years, particularly when it comes to employee training for remote workers. Digital platforms can leverage an increasingly advanced level of machine learning and artificial intelligence so that the training programs can be both efficient and effective. To minimize cost while maximizing benefit, training should be focused and direct.
  7. Stay organized.
    While you may be following a general template for onboarding, the very nature of personalization means that every employee training experience is going to be slightly different. From an HR perspective, it means that both the HR professional and the new hire — as well as any managers or supervisors who will be working with the new hire — are all suitably apprised of what training has been done, what objectives have been set, and what additional learning is yet to come. Trello boards are a good option, but always choose a tool that everyone will actually use (and appreciate), not one that feels more like a chore.
  8. Keep going.
    The nature of work is just like the nature of technology: it’s constantly evolving. What this means is that employee training is not a one-time process. Encourage continuous learning among all your employees. By working toward more contextual learning and by making digital adoption a priority, all workers are empowered to perform at their highest possible level and feel like they are being recognized for their efforts.

A Digital Solution for a Digital World

Simply relying on digital tools to power your online employee training process isn’t enough. The tools can indeed be very robust, but they need to be used to their fullest extent and embraced by everyone involved in the process. That’s what digital adoption is all about and it is positively critical to developing an effective, efficient, streamlined process for employee training. That’s how employees, both new and old, will feel like they can tackle any challenge and succeed.

What Exactly is OTT Advertising and How Does it Work?

What if taking things “over the top” was the best marketing move your company could make?

Over the top advertising is a powerful new strategy to capture customer attention and build your brand. Unfortunately, most businesses don’t know how what OTT advertising is and how it can work for them.

Keep reading to discover how this new marketing technique can boost your own company’s bottom line!

What Is OTT Advertising?

We’ve put together a guide to help you understand how over the top advertising can work for your company. First, though, it’s important to define what this form of advertising actually is.

The term “over the top” doesn’t refer to some kind of outlandish marketing practices. Instead, it refers to advertisements designed for digital devices.

The rise of over the top advertising shows us how much things are changing in the modern consumer landscape. Simply put, traditional commercials matter less and less as more consumers find digital ways to watch their favorite shows, games, and movies.

Common OTT Devices

What are the devices that someone will see OTT advertisements on? The full list of devices seems to grow every year!

Many rely on video game consoles such as the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One. Soon, the next generation of consoles (including the Playstation 5 and the Xbox One X) will be the main way plenty of people view such advertisements.

Special HDMI sticks are also a popular way to stream digital content. This includes things like Amazon’s Fire TV Stick or a Chromecast plug-in.

Some consumers prefer dedicated digital boxes to facilitate digital streaming. This includes things like Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV boxes.

Finally, some consumers stream via apps within their Blu-Ray players. And a growing number of smart TVs have streaming apps built into then, meaning customers need nothing else to begin watching.

Where Does This Advertising Play?

The term “streaming content” comes up a lot in relation to OTT advertisements. But where, exactly, will consumers be watching these advertisements?

While Netflix was the early torchbearer for streaming content, customers are highly unlikely to see any OTT ads on that platform. That’s because Netflix has made “commercial-free” a major part of their brand.

However, OTT ads appear on Netflix’s rival Hulu. Unless customers pay more for the commercial-free option, their Hulu streaming will include occasional ads.

Additionally, there are a number of free online streaming apps vying for customer attention, including Tubi, Crackle, and Pluto TV. Those services are free because they rely heavily on advertisements.

Commercials For the Next Generation

Why have OTT advertisements become such a major part of consumers’ daily lives? To understand this, you must better understand the shifting demographics of your customers.

Demographics such as millennials have been leading the way in “cord-cutting” for many years. This means they are turning their back on traditional cable subscriptions for multiple reasons.

The first reason is financial. As cable subscription costs continue to rise, trading that monthly bill in to only pay $10 (or less) per month for a streaming service starts to look pretty good.

On top of that, millennials also prefer the “on demand” nature of streaming entertainment. Why cluster around the TV at designated times when you can watch your favorite content whenever and wherever you are?

Customers love OTT devices and streaming platforms. And this gives you the chance to create your own programmatic TV ads.

The Power of Video Advertising Networks

So, how does a business get started with OTT advertising? One of the easiest ways is to work with video advertising networks.

As the name implies, these networks help manage the flow of ads broadcast to various streaming services. And it’s something you can take advantage of in a couple of different ways.

We’ve already covered the first method: working with these external companies to show your own advertisements elsewhere. The second method is more ambitious: should your company create its own “channel” of content for an online streaming service, you can work with advertising networks to broadcast commercials on your own channel!

Sponsored Ads

A more obvious method of broadcasting your ads is to create sponsored ads. Simply put, you pay to advertise on a very specific platform or channel.

This offers some advantages that mirror traditional advertisements. For example, you can advertise on channels that primarily cater to the same demographic you hope to cater to.

There are also special advantages to OTT advertisement, though. A sponsored message can take almost any form, from traditional video ads to app launch screens to banners and backgrounds.

Such versatility allows you to pick the advertisements that are best for your company and its products.

The Benefits of OTT Advertising

Maybe you’re still not sold on the notion of OTT advertisements. You probably have a pretty simple question: just what are the main benefits of OTT advertising?

One obvious benefit is the potential reach of your advertisements. By the year 2022, nearly 200 million people will view OTT ads each month!

Another benefit is one we have already touched on: the ability to target customers by demographic. You can also target by geographic areas in a way that you cannot with traditional advertising.

The last two advantages are connected. First, it’s easy to conduct and analyze analytics each month to determine how many customers you have reached. Because of those analytics, you can make OTT advertising budget-friendly, especially when you target specific customer niches.

Mainstream vs Niche

It’s tempting to think “bigger is better” and try to reach as many customers as possible. But focusing on specific customer niches can actually create buzz and conversions, all without breaking the bank on your marketing budget.

Take the time to really study your analytics each month with your OTT advertising. You’ll eventually be able to find a “sweet spot” regarding who to target and where, making your marketing more efficient, streamlined, and budget-friendly.

Your Next Marketing Move

Now you know how OTT advertising can make your company some serious cash. But do you know how else to turn real profits in the digital age?

To learn more about thow to grow your online business or offline brand through content creation and affiliate marketing, check out our resources section or contact us today.

vCita Review: The Best Appointment Scheduling Tool for Your Business

It doesn’t matter if you’re a solopreneur or if you’re the owner of a business with employees – managing client appointments while keeping everyone satisfied is by no means easy.

A lot of time is wasted every day going back and forth via email, coordinating time availability options. And then there’s the huge time suck associated with manually keeping track of appointment bookings, cancellations, invoices, and late payments. Worse yet, most SMBs use multiple apps to handle scheduling, calendaring and messaging. As you can probably guess, this results in lower productivity and major drops in work efficiency..

The good news is, by using the right online appointment scheduling platform, you can optimize your appointment bookings, manage clients, keep client files in one place, automate marketing campaigns, and collect payments.

Enter vCita, a powerful online scheduling solution that’s equipped to match the appointment booking needs of SMBs. It offers the tools you need to maximize productivity and improve client engagement. With this in mind, in this post, we’ll take a look at exactly how vCita enables solopreneurs and SMBs to effectively meet their appointment booking needs and more.

What Is vCita?

vCita comes with a suite of client management and marketing tools, available as a web app, a mobile app and a family of CMS and social media integrations, to help small businesses easily manage appointment bookings, billing and related workflows.

In addition to this, vCita offers a number of CRM capabilities such as contact management, segmentation, billing and invoicing, and a built-in client portal. vCita lets you collect payments from your clients for appointments and gives you access to built-in marketing features including automated marketing campaigns, lead capturing capabilities, and landing pages.

vCita’s powerful website widget lets your clients book appointments themselves and reach out to you via whichever communication channels you set as options. It’s the perfect solution for solopreneurs and SMBs who’re looking for a user-friendly, automated, and affordable way to schedule appointments, manage clients, and collect payments.

Appointment Scheduling

vCita helps you improve appointment scheduling workflows, which is especially helpful for businesses that spend a lot of time managing appointments and delivering services.

vCita’s calendar lets you automatically confirm client scheduling requests, saving you time spent on back-and-forth communication. Additionally, you can sync your existing calendar with your vCita calendar, so that only the time slots where you’re actually available will appear as options for people to claim.

On the back end, you can easily set up your widget to display important information such as appointment duration, location, and pricing of each service you offer. And you can easily access all of the details associated with each appointment, including the contact’s payment history, internal notes and associated contact details.

Creating recurring meetings manually is difficult, since you have to make sure the same slot is available for every instance of the recurring meeting. But vCita lets you set it all up with just a few clicks.

Beyond this, vCita lets you link to the client-facing scheduler as a prominent call-to-action on your Facebook Page and Google My Business profile. And you can embed the complete scheduling interface in your web pages, as well as your vCita-powered landing page and client service portal.

But what if you manage a team of service providers, each with his or her own areas of expertise and availability issues? In the back end dashboard, you can sync up everyone’s calendars, and you can associate specific team members with specific services and appointment types, which helps boost productivity and enables you to deliver better user experiences.

vCita gives you access to a branded client portal increasing client engagement and enabling your clients to easily view upcoming appointments, make payments, and share documents. This makes it easy for clients to get in touch with you through their platform of choice, and when you handle all communications through vCita, its CRM will automatically create a log of all messages and their attachments.

Client Management

Your appointment scheduling tool should help you get a bird’s eye view of your client’s history. This way, you’re able to better manage your appointments and track any cancellations in time, to squeeze in more clients.

The contact management system allows you to easily see rich details for everyone in your database, including their payment and appointment histories, conversations, documents, notes and relevant audience segments, which are managed through a super intuitive tagging system.

With all of this information on a centralized platform, you can easily assign clients to team members as they come in. This boosts work productivity and enables you to offer an improved client support experience.

With vCita, you can quickly configure automated pre-meeting reminders and custom post-meeting follow-ups. This means that you can reduce no-shows and get more returning business, by inviting your clients to book their next appointments.

Additionally, vCita comes with a powerful lead capturing widget that gathers emails from your site visitors and converts them into paying customers. It lets you store, manage, and label leads, helping you with your lead scoring and client segmentation efforts.

It also lets you improve your digital marketing efforts via email and SMS marketing campaigns, enabling you to bring in more clients and increase revenue.

Payments

You need an appointment scheduling tool that lets you quickly send invoices, receipts, and estimates to clients during the appointment or meeting such as when you’re on a sales call or when you’ve just closed a deal. vCita takes this one step further, allowing you to collect payments via the web, either upon booking or after the appointment has taken place.

It’s important to go with a scheduling solution that allows you to manage client payments from a centralized platform. With vCita, you’re able to deliver a coherent and consistent experience.

Additionally, vCita helps you keep track of pending and overdue invoices, using automated payment reminders, so you don’t miss a payment.

You can enable your clients to pay online through PayPal or credit cards, which are processed by Stripe or Square. People can pay via the client portal, or you can add a payment button to your invoices.

vCita can also be connected with Zapier for additional automation integrations, and Quickbooks, which is great for accounting related tasks.

Marketing

You should be able to manage your business’s marketing from a centralized platform that allows you to leverage cross-channel marketing including email and SMS. Moreover, it should let you deliver personalized experiences without a traditional marketing tech stack comprised of dozens of apps. You should consider going for a solution that makes it easy for clients to book appointments directly from emails.

With vCita, you’ll be able to quickly create engaging marketing campaigns using its pre-built templates and pre-set automated campaigns. It offers client segmentation – based on different factors such as client location, and interests – and personalization options to help you tailor marketing messages to individual clients.

vCita allows you to quickly set up individual or drip campaigns using pre-built workflow and message templates, optimized for client engagement and retention. For instance, you can send a Welcome email to new clients, a Happy Birthday greeting, or an It’s Been a While email to re-engage dormant clients.

But these are just the pre-built marketing messaging campaigns. You can also use the platform to set up anything you like, segmenting your audience according to any of the data you have in your CRM, including appointment types, loyalty levels or onboarding date. And all campaigns can be dispatched via email as well as SMS.

You can track the performance of your marketing efforts, segmenting reports according to campaign, specific message or contact-specific engagement.

Conclusion

Businesses that require clients to book appointments and meetings have much to gain by using a powerful online scheduling software product like vCita.

We looked at some of the key features on offer with vCita and discussed how it can help solopreneurs as well as small teams improve productivity and schedule their appointments faster. It also comes with useful features like client management, payment handling, and automated cross-channel marketing capabilities.

vCita doesn’t require any coding skills or other technical knowledge, so you’ll be able to easily get started and accept appointments right away.

5 Actionable Tips to Boost Your Customer Engagement

When was the last time you met a customer or client of your business? This might sound like an obvious question but be honest. In today’s digital world of huge corporations, most people who own companies don’t meet their clients or respond to their needs individually.

But engaging with clients or customers on an individual level is vitally important to growing your brand and ultimately your product or service. Without customer engagement, you become another company lost in the wilderness of the internet.

Here’s what you should include in your customer engagement strategy.

1. Make Yourself Approachable

The first rule of business is to ensure that customers know who you are and how they can reach out to you. Be sure to advertise the different methods that customers or clients can reach out to you. Provide a phone number and its operating hours if you don’t have one.

But also provide the names of the people at the company and their roles along with their email addresses. This allows customers and clients to put a name and even a face to the company.

Don’t send out automated messages, try to reply to everybody with personalized messages if you can. This is how you can demonstrate great customer engagement.

2. Improve Your Social Media Game

Social media is the biggest way you can reach out to new and existing customers and often the first channel they will seek to reach out to you.

Be sure to put out regular posts and keep them personal. Nobody wants to see boring corporate tweets or Facebook posts. Give them a personal slant and ensure they are signed by a member of the team.

Social media is also the place that people come to vent their frustrations that something has gone wrong. Be sure to remain sympathetic and calm during interactions where the company is criticized.

Ask the compliant for an email address or a phone number so you can reach out to them individually. This might make them feel more respected and calm.

3. Know What Your Audience Wants

If you want to have a brand or business that stands the test of time, you need to provide real value to your audience. A perfect example of this can be seen with Amazon.com. Not only have they drastically expanded the reach and products from their business, they also continue to gain more customers daily as well.

This is something Print on Demand Academy preaches within their courses and content, which is to focus all of your efforts what the end user wants and how to give it to them.

No matter the size or focus of your business, it’s ultimately going to come down to the engagement and appreciation you get from your customers. Without it, you are just another failing company without a purpose and need.

4. Create a Regular Blog

As well as short-form content in terms of tweets and social media posts, it is important to also put long-form content out there. This is usually in the form of blogs.

Regular blogs help customers see what you are up to and get insider insight into how the company works. They create that personal connection between the company and the customer or client.

But they also do more than that. Blog content should also be search engine optimized. This ensures that it used the right keywords and links. The site is then ranked highly on Google searches, one of the most important customer engagement marketing strategies.

Remember though it’s important to consider what it’s worth investing in social media or SEO.

5. Use Popups and Unique Call to Actions

Thanks to the power of the internet, it’s never been easier to connect with audiences around the world and also capture their email — which leads to an instant way to stay in contact and message them.

With this in mind, the more call to actions you have on your site, the more likely you are find success with your brand or business.

Start with social media and site content, then add in some call to actions for a simple email grab. As you continue to optimize your site, also think about adding popup windows, push notifications and other unique call to actions to get the end user to engage with your content.

Creating A Good Customer Engagement Strategy Is Key to Business in the Modern World

In the modern world, competition is rife. Because of the growth of internet customers, and consumers increasingly have much more power than they once did.

And they use this power to demand better customer engagement through social media, blogs, and personal interaction.

If you are interested in reading more about customer engagement or have to make money online then be sure to check out the rest of my blog.

5 Small Businesses Applications to Improve Workflow and ROI

Are you interested in using software to improve your business workflow?

You’re in luck. There are plenty of options out there. And not matter what it is you are trying to improve, automate or scale, there is likely an affordable solution out there for your business needs.

In fact, the budget for SaaS products to help small businesses is more significant than ever. The average small business spends an average of $21,000 a year on products — which is quite lucrative for the many different applications and solutions out there, when looking at the industry as a whole.

And on the flip side, when you factor in how much time, resources, and saved-costs are associated through the use of these applications, the demand is even higher, with billions of dollars pouring into the industry year after year.

But with all your options, it’s hard to know what products are worth trying. Keep reading to learn about five applications for small businesses that are worth investing in.

1. Zoom

Do you still require your team to be in the office whenever you have a meeting? If you have people who work remotely, they probably aren’t happy about needing to come into the office for a meeting. Zoom can help these people.

With Zoom, you can have your meetings online. You’ll be able to share audio and video so nobody will be left out of the process.

2. Wave

Are you looking for an app to help you manage your company finances? As a small business, you probably don’t have a big budget for the more expensive options out there. That’s where Wave comes into play.

Wave is a free application that does the same thing as the other paid options. You’ll be able to connect to your bank account to get an overview of all your business finances. You’ll also be able to use your Wave account to invoice your customers and have your money deposited directly to your bank.

3. Slack

Email is a great way to handle communication. But it does have drawbacks. It can be challenging to navigate through email chains when you’re trying to find information about specific projects.

If you want to make communication easier, opening a Slack channel for your business can help. Slack is a messaging platform that allows you to create chat channels for your business. Create a separate channel for each one of your projects, and you’ll have all your communication centralized in one place.

4. Asana

Do you still manage projects in the old fashioned way? It can be hard to keep things organized and every one up to date when you do this.

Asana will give you a central location to manage all your projects. It allows you to create tasks and goals and assign dates to all the critical elements of your projects. Nobody will need to jump through hoops to figure out what’s going on or what they need to do anymore.

5. Zapier

Having applications to help your business is nice, but it can be troublesome to organize everything between them all. If you’re looking for a way to automate this process, Zapier can help.

Zapier is a product that allows you to perform automated tasks whenever an action happens. Set up an automation once, and you’ll save time in the long run.

There are Zapier alternatives out there, so find an automation platform that will work best for your business.

There Are More Applications for Small Businesses out There

The above applications for small businesses are only the start. There are many more products out there, and new ones are coming out all the time. With this in mind, make sure you do your research so you can find more software that will help you run your business.

It’s also important to spend some time on the top application and business services review sites, as this is where you will learn the most about different applications out there, and what end-users really have to say about each.

Are you interested in more technology that can help you keep your company running smoothly? Be sure to check out our Google Gmail alternative article for more useful applications and resources.

App Marketing Tips and Appstore Optimization for 2019

The Internet is a wonderfully powerful, empowering and varied place. As the shift moves more and more away from the desktop computer experience and toward mobile devices — indeed, mobile devices account for more than half of all website traffic worldwide as of 2017 — the user experience is simultaneously shifting far more toward the mobile app environment too. More and more users are performing more and more of their online tasks within apps than they are using a mobile browser.

This is hardly a new trend, nor should it come as any sort of surprise to anyone with online content of practically any kind. What is surprisingly, though, is how little attention is being paid to optimizing app marketing strategies relative to efforts being put forth for non-app initiatives, like traditional search engine optimization. It’s one thing to develop and publish a great mobile app that delivers a terrific user experience while simultaneously achieving your business goals. It’s another thing altogether to make sure that mobile app gets noticed, downloaded, and actually used on a regular basis.

What can you do to boost those download and monthly active user (MAU) counts? Here are some tips to get you started.

Be Prompt With Review Replies

In the current age of social media and online interaction, it’s more important than ever for brands to really connect with their users. It’s not enough to simply put your product out there. You need to interact with your fans and followers in an organic and natural way. Users are much more inclined to demonstrate brand loyalty toward companies that show they really care. This includes responding to comments on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, but it’s even more important within the ecosystems of the app stores themselves.

With both the App Store for Apple devices and the Google Play Store for Android devices, user reviews really drive the visibility of your app, as well as the initial impressions that prospective users may have of your app. Put yourself in the shoes of a typical user. Let’s say you see a couple of seemingly similar apps. One has only a handful of reviews and most of them are in the 3 star range. The other has hundreds or thousands of reviews, most of which are 4 stars and above. Which app are you more inclined to install? The answer is obvious.

One area that many companies overlook, however, is responding to the reviews they receive within these app stores. As users are able to change their ratings and update their reviews after the fact, addressing any concerns or criticisms can sway the tide in your favor. By utilizing a tool like Appfollow, the support team of a company can promptly respond to any and all reviews that they receive. This is a terrific opportunity to guide users in how to use the app effectively before they consider going to your competitors.

Responding to reviews within the app stores is especially important in the early days of launch, because new users will only see negative reviews and problems when they tap to see your app’s page. You want to encourage and entice those glowing reviews early and often, and using a tool like Appfollow to monitor them through Slack, Discord or email makes the whole process much more efficient.

Prioritize Your Engagement

What if you don’t have the time or resources to respond to every review your app receives in a timely manner? This is where a more advanced technique called semantic analysis can come into play. In effect, you’re able to quickly detect issues that lead to user dissatisfaction, poor ratings, and uninstalls.

These are the engagements that you really need to prioritize, because they are the ones that — left unattended — can really drag down your business.

Semantic analysis looks at positive versus negative sentiments based on emotional tone, for example. It can also fetch out topics and bugs, so you can more easily identify the most pressing issues. A wordcloud functions in a similar kind of way, and a feelings chart can help to visualize topics and questions that your customers are talking about. Are they making feature requests? Or are more users discussing issues with recent app updates?

Target Your Specific Category

Focus on your strengths. It’s a common mantra that you’ll hear across the business world and into the realm of personal development too. This is also true when it comes to marketing and optimizing your mobile app. The paradox is that the more specific you can get with what your app is and who it is for, the better chance you’ll have for attracting a larger number of engaged users who actually love your product. You can’t be all things to all people; rather, the riches are in the niches.

In this way, when deciding on any marketing efforts or strategies for your app, zero in your ideal demographic and really focus on becoming the number one app in your specific category, rather than trying to hit the list of top apps overall. Understandably, you may want some help and guidance along the way. Leveraging the app marketing services of a company like PreApps is a good way to go here. They’ll work to “get your app promoted to millions of targeted users.”

One especially effective tactic they use is the creation of a “high-quality and memorable demo video to share your app’s uniqueness.” Screenshots are great, but having a punchy video can make all the difference in the world.

Optimize Your App Listing

When it comes to traditional search engine optimization (SEO), we pay attention to a number of factors like inbound links and latent semantic indexing. App store optimization (ASO) functions in much the same way, as you’ll want to optimize the keywords not only in your app’s description, but even in the app name itself. RankMyApp can help with this method of growing organic traffic toward your app.

For instance, while you may have already done some research on the keywords you want to include in your app’s name, these can shift over time. The RankMyApp algorithm can monitor these keywords and suggest new ones, ensuring that your app’s title is always optimized for the best possible ranking. Similarly, you can track the keywords being used by competing apps, and look into any features that you may need to improve in your own app.

Be Seen and Get Downloaded

Just as there are many moving pieces to having any sort of online property, the same is very much true with mobile apps too. That being said, it doesn’t matter how great your app might be or how effective your monetization model might be if no one is actually downloading and using your app in the first place.

App marketing is both an art and a science, so you’ll need to have the right tools for the job. Above all else, recognize that users are real people, and as such, your marketing strategy needs to focus on that person-to-person interaction. Listen and respond to feedback in as timely and as accurate a manner as possible. Because the users will always be the lifeblood of your app.

Marketing Objectives 101: How to Define and Measure Marketing Objectives

Do you have any idea how to define and measure marketing? Most people were not taught how to effectively define what marketing metrics matter. If you own a business and/or your an entrepreneur, defining and measuring marketing is essential to your success.

Are you tracking if your traffic is increasing? Do you know if you rank for keywords? How are your conversion metrics? Do you know what conversion is? What is the return on investment in your marketing? Are your efforts paying off?

If you know how to define and measure marketing objectives, this can mean the difference between success and failure in your business. Insights combined with information is powerful in marketing.

The best marketing strategies are a combination of art and science. They combine the feelings of the message with the methods. Are you wondering how to define and measure marketing objectives? Check out this guide to learn how it’s done.

Marketing Objectives 101

Marketing objectives are simpler to define than you think. It’s important to think about why you want to achieve something first. For example, helping others change their life in health. The how involves the way you will use to reach people.

In marketing, this could be a blog, podcast, and social media. With this framework of why, how and what, you can easily set up goals or objectives. In this example, your objective could be growing your blog traffic by 25% in the next 90 days.

The best marketing strategy involves both the vision and short-term perspective. It is important to be aware that sometimes there are conflicts between the two. For example, short-term results may suffer because of a focus on a long-term strategy.

Know Your Mission

Knowing and reminding yourself of your mission will help you keep the overall company objectives in mind. Sometimes when companies solely focus on a marketing objective, they often lose sight of the mission.

A lot of times, marketers get caught up in traffic numbers, clicks and conversions — which are all things that can change all the time.  As an entrepreneur, it’s important to think of the mission of a company. When you start thinking about what to do, are you aware of the impact of the mission?

Whether it’s with SEO or different day to day operations of your business, regularly assessing the alignment of the mission to the objectives is key. Practice asking how will this objective help us fulfill our mission.

Marketing Objectives

Take a look at your goals first. Does the company have them for sales? For example, an overall goal might be to increase sales to $1 million in the next year. Now, it is easier to set the steps to get to the goal.

The marketing objectives become tied to the overall goal. For example, what does conversion need to increase to? How does the average sale need to change? What is the goal now per week and per month? Which activities will the team do to get there?

Take a look at what the trends are doing based on recent marketing activities. This is a great place to start to assess your existing marketing activities and what you want to change.

Setting Goals

Setting goals differs from marketing objectives. Your marketing goals are the stepping stones that will get you to your objectives. Every step will lead to the next step.

Ultimately, what you want to happen is every step leads to the top of the staircase. In this case, the top of the staircase is the $1 million in sales in the next year. For example, let’s take conversion rates.

Let’s say the team determines conversions need to increase by 30% in the next year. Some related marketing goals could be to:

  • Increase organic traffic to the website by 100% monthly
  • Modify landing pages for keywords to increase rankings
  • Add e-mail reminders for abandoned carts within <1-24 hours

The marketing objective of increasing conversions by 30% are tied directly to the goals. The marketing goals and objectives tied to the overall end goal of reaching $1 million in sales in the next year.

When you are setting goals, it’s important to review them from the top down and bottom up to make sure they are the right goals.

Determine how wise the company is with expenses and if certain expenses should be decreased or eliminated. Even if the margin is healthy, it is smart money management to assess expenses regularly.

One area you may want to pay attention to is Travel & Entertainment. In some industries especially, companies have not established sound practices. As a result, this is an area ripe for overspending in many companies.

Strategy Execution

Strategy execution is the next step in your marketing objective process. This is what you will actually do to get to your marketing goals. Each step goes down a deeper level to help you to keep the focus on the objectives.

The strategy execution could involve:

  • Increasing to >3 blog posts per week & > 2500 words each
  • Tying each blog post to a landing page for a demo, trial or freebies
  • Launching a podcast on over three multi-media channels
  • Promoting content on social media and newsletters
  • Running ads and retargeting on Google, Yelp, and social media

In addition, regularly review the activities and results on each of these steps. This will give you an idea of progress towards your goals and objectives.

Marketing Funnel

The marketing funnel is the steps where people self select where they want to be in your process. You can invite them to different steps in the funnel. They ultimate choose where they want to be.

In a marketing funnel, the process often looks like:

  • Awareness (letting your audience know you exist e.g. social media, blogs)
  • Interest (someone subscribing to your newsletter or freebie offer)
  • Consideration (series of emails or newsletters to nurture relationship)
  • Intent (first part of the sales process with all options for people)
  • Evaluation (people evaluate the options and talk to their teams)
  • Purchase (Your community buys your services or products)

You can see how each one of the steps in the process has marketing goals that need to be met first so that people move to the next step.

Here are some potential example goals for your marketing funnel.

Awareness Goal Examples:

  • Increase visitors > 1,000 weekly
  • Reach >1000 influencers for every campaign

Interest Goal Examples:

  • Increase > 1,000 new email subscribers weekly
  • Grow social media >1000 monthly

Consideration Goal Examples:

  • Get 50% of new customers in freebies from campaigns
  • Qualify 50 new leads from LinkedIn weekly

Intent Goal Examples:

  • Have 10 new sales calls a week.

Evaluation Goal Examples:

  • Write five B2B blog posts monthly
  • Set up ten demo calls weekly

Purchase Goal Examples:

  • Convert 50% of sales calls to purchases.
  • Achieve an average order value of $100 for B2C
  • Achieve an average order value of $3,000 for B2B

In general for purchasing goals, the lower the numbers the faster you will collect cash. For a B2B business, the connection of a relationship may take longer. The cash collection from the sales goal is the same timing.

Measuring Metrics

Measuring metrics now becomes easy. You have the metrics set up in each area. There are two parts to measuring the metrics. The first part is the progress towards the goal. The second is asking should we change something in the metric or activities?

Here are examples of measuring metrics.

Awareness Progress Examples:

  • How much did visitors increase this week?
  • How many influencers saw campaigns?

Interest Goal Examples:

  • How many new subscribers this week?
  • What was the increase in social media?

Consideration Goal Examples:

  • How many new customers?
  • How many new leads?

Intent Goal Examples:

  • How many new calls this week?

Evaluation Goal Examples:

  • Were the new posts written?
  • How many demos calls set up?

Purchase Goal Examples:

  • What was the conversion of sales to purchases?
  • What was the average order value of B2C? >$100?
  • What was the average order value of B2B? >$3,000?

Your team can easily set this up via an excel spreadsheet, or key performance indicator tools online to track regularly. What gets measured, gets managed.

Define and Measure Marketing Objectives

Defining and measuring marketing objectives when you start isn’t easy. The fact that you are even reading this article says a lot about you. Get honest with yourself about the next steps to take.

Defining and measuring marketing objectives is both an art and a science. It isn’t something you do once and your done. The process requires a focus so that you continue to move forward in achieving marketing objectives and goals.

The good news is that with every step you take to define and measure objectives, your clarity and results will increase. Before you know it, you will be a pro at your marketing objectives and results.

What action will you take next to define and measure marketing objectives?

For more on metrics and marketing, visit our blog.

Beginners Guide on How to Build a Brand Online in 2020

If you run a business, then you know that you can’t survive in the market without building a unique brand. The question is, how do you go about that?

With so many options on the table for content creating, branding, and reaching new audiences, one can quickly find themselves overwhelmed with tasks and opportunities at every turn.

No matter if you are looking at social media, paid marketing, content creation, SEO or blogging… branding is all a big part of the process.

Starting an online business is easy, but turning it into a trusted brand is not.

If you want the simplest and best approach to creating a brand that people will trust and buy from, consider the following steps and case study examples to help you get there.

  1. Identify Your Audience

Here is the thing- there is no dearth of branding tools and resources online that can help you create everything i.e. from attractive logos to marketing campaigns for your business. However, none of these will work if you don’t target the right people. 

Before you start working on your brand, you need to identify your target audience. The following are some of the questions that you can ask yourself to get that information:

  • Where are my customers located?
  • What’s the age group of my customers?
  • What kind of lifestyle most of my customers have?

Once you have all of this information in place, it’s then time to build a site and platform around their needs.

CASE STUDY EXAMPLE:

When it comes to identifying your audience, few industries are more crucial than ecommerce for accomplishing this. Not only is the competition fierce, it’s also a ‘first impression’ type of business, and if those first few seconds on your site doesn’t seal the deal… you may likely lose that potential customer for life.

If you want to increase conversions and sales through your online store, you need to make sure it not only has a great site design and navigation, it also needs to have proper product search and category breakdowns as well.

A perfect example of this can be seen with WalkingOnACloud, an online retailer in Canada that focuses on a wide range of shoes and boots through their site. Take a look at the screenshot below to see the easy navigation and product listings on the site.

What you will notice is that each shoe image pops right off the page, and the title and brand is quite easy to read as well.

If the end user has any problems with searching the site and finding the right shoe or brand they are looking for, all they need to do is make a few adjustments on the left side menu to refine their search.

The site also features many other classic models and brands that allow it to rank in the search results for individual shoes and long tail keywords as well. If you visit any of the pages on the site, you will also notice it’s text and keyword heavy at the bottom of each page — thus providing more value to the end user, and improving their chances to rank in the search results by having real text on the site and not just individual products and image.

  1. Define Your Mission

A brand has to have a mission and a vision. There is no way around it. So, you need to find some free time and think of the things that define the purpose of your existence.

A good question that you can ask yourself is – what problems does my business solve? The answer to this question can be anything.

Another good way to look at this, is to ask where you audience is. For example, some brands focus their efforts more on Instagram, versus that of Facebook or Twitter. The more you know about your audience, the easier it will be for you to see an ROI with your content creation and marketing efforts.

For instance, your business might be providing affordable furniture to bachelors, clothing for students taking the leap to college, or maybe you want to treat everyone with the most delicious homely meals. Whatever the answer is, shall become the foundation of your mission and vision.

At the same time, user engagement is now a much larger focus than ever before. It’s not just about having a presence on social media, it’s about how brands are actually connecting and providing value to their end users.

Once you have a general idea about your brand’s mission and vision, you can read a guide or two online on how to write proper statements. This way you won’t have to revise the same over and over again.

CASE STUDY EXAMPLE:

Social media is great for many different things, but when it comes to the actual ROI and business that is generated from it, only a few brands and ecommerce sites are doing it correctly.

You can create content, build a following, and have as many accounts and followers as you like, but if they aren’t resulting in real sales and conversions — what good is it?

This is something Zappos knew right from the start, and as a result, they have one of the largest followings on social media in terms on ecommerce and shoe retailers go.

With over 2.5 million followers on Twitter, and millions of dollars being generated in sales weekly, customer support is still their strong point.

For Zappos, social media marketing is nothing new — as it’s how they got their start and found major success online. Instead of focusing just on sales and marketing, they wanted to make their brand all about customer support and user engagement.

This ultimately lead to the success the company is having today — which results in them becoming one of the largest shoe retailers in the world today.

The quick takeaway here is to not just be active on social media, but to also give your audience a reason why they should follow you — and actually be interested in the content and services you are offering through social.

  1. Study Your Competition

Branding is all about differentiating your business from others in the market. So, it’s important that you pay close attention to your rivals and their brands.

You should study their mission and vision and USPs and pay attention to their logos as well. This is because you want all of these to be different from them. Only then you can stand out and attract customers easily.

At the same time, you also need to understand how and where to focus your efforts. For some brands, this might be on their social media marketing and branding efforts… while for others it might be in the form on content marketing and SEO.

CASE STUDY EXAMPLE:

We all know that SEO and Google search is on the decline, but the quality is still there. If someone is going to Google and typing in what they are looking for… then they are also very likely to take action.

However, for this to work, your site will need to have a nice DA and PA associated with it, while also having some nice backlinks and high-quality content of course.

This is often a problem for ecommerce sites because they are focusing too much on their individual product pages and not enough ‘service and content’. Through the use of a blog, brands should be creating top lists, reviews, and stories about the products they create.

These content pages can then rank in Google at a much higher and faster pace than regular product pages. At the same time, it would be very hard to rank for individual product names and brands, when so many other big name sites and stores are already out there.

A perfect example of this can be seen if you were to Google something like “best clothes to bring to college“.  It’s a long tail keyword and maybe not something a ton of people search, but it’s still a nice thing to rank for — and people that are searching for it are likely already in buying mode.

Check out the results from the search, then see what type of content each of these sites are creating. If you are an apparel retailer, this is a no brainer — and you should be doing this for every type of event, season, or whatever… that people might be searching for clothes ideas on.

  1. Define Brand Guidelines

Consistency is the key to successful branding and it can be easily accomplished if you are willing to make the effort. What you fundamentally need is brand guidelines.

By defining the guidelines, you can ensure that your branding is consistent across all channels- social media, website, emails, and even offline channels viz. banners at public events, customized merchandise, etc. The following are some of the things that you need to define for your brand:

  • Color palette
  • Typography
  • Writing style and tone (for blog, website content, etc.)
  • Mission statement and vision

Once you have a clear message that defines your brand, it will be that much easier for you to create an action plan and set of business goals to help you get there.

EXAMPLE CASE STUDY:

In order to create an effective and powerful vision for your brand, you need to not only understand your business, but also what it means to those whom you are serving.

FitBusiness has an excellent write up on 10 excellent vision statements to spark your imagination.

At the very least, these will serve extremely useful in providing you with some real life examples on what it means to have a powerful brand, business, and a purpose (vision) behind it.

One of the most important things to remember when creative a vision and statement for your business and brand, is to make sure it relates with your audience, how they perceive your company, and that you can actually act and deliver on the promise that you are making.

  1. Market Your Brand

Once your brand is ready, you can start to promote it wherever you can. You can find numerous examples of how to promote your brand with targeted blog content, emails, social media, etc. on the Internet. You just need to create a strategy and it’s also highly recommended you use at least a few tools to make your job easier which include a social media manager, analytics tool for SEO, advanced video editors, etc. 

Marketing and brand consistency go hand in hand. What it means that when you talk to your customers on social media or your blog, you need to make sure that you maintain the same tone and voice. 

EXAMPLE CASE STUDY:

Much like how we mentioned creating content for your site or brand to reach new audiences through search rankings with original blog content ideas, knowing how to market to your brand is key.

It’s not just about knowing who you are marketing to, but also how to create the best content that relates to them.

This is something social media, especially Facebook Ads and Instagram Marketing has become extremely effective in — as they both offer demographic, interest, and custom audience targeting.

With such options in place, it’s no longer a matter of creating content on your site and just hoping for it to be found… but instead a matter of how often and when.

Through the use of paid promotion, social media, and the power of remarketing — targeting your ideal customer and demographic audience is now easier than ever before.

In Conclusion….

The internet has made the process of starting a website and going live with a business or brand extremely cost effective and easy.

With more than a billion active websites and blogs on the internet today, we are all in an extremely competitive space. This means every small and large business needs top-notch branding in order to survive and also to increase revenue month over month.

If you want to prepare for that in the most straightforward manner, then the steps and case studies provided above can help you get there.

Good luck!